Lawmakers face 30 new LePage vetoes and counting when they return to Augusta on Thursday

Gov. Paul LePage. BDN photo by Troy Bennett.

Gov. Paul LePage. BDN photo by Troy Bennett.

Gov. Paul LePage issued 15 new veto letters on Monday, adding to a crop of another 15 vetoes he’s issued in recent days that will make for a long day for lawmakers on Thursday.

Some of the vetoes come as little surprise because the Legislature left many of the more controversial and partisan bills until the last few days of the legislative session, which ended in the very early morning hours of April 18. Several of the vetoes drew angry responses from advocacy groups and the lawmakers who sponsored them.

The list of the vetoes issued Monday is below. Expect more BDN coverage in the coming days.

- LD 1641, An Act to Amend the Workers’ Compensation Laws as they Pertain to Employee Representation, has to do with which statements are inadmissible in worker’s compensation investigations. LePage wrote in his veto letter that the bill as enacted conflicts with the National Labor Relations Act.

- LD 347, An Act to Amend Insurance Coverage for Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders, would require health insurance coverage for autism in children under 10 years of age. Current law provides coverage for autism disorders in children under age 5. LePage vetoed the bill because he said it would increase insurance premiums and in the case of state employees, cost more for state government.

- LD 906, An Act to Permit a School Administrative Unit Discretion Concerning Participation of Students from Charter Schools in School Extracurricular and Interscholastic Activities, sets rules for traditional public school superintendents to decide whether students who attend public charter schools can participate in extracurricular or interscholastic activities at the non-charter schools LePage vetoed it because he said it would give superintendents too much authority to deny the activities for charter school students.

- LD 1600, An Act to Require Health Insurers to Provide Coverage for Human Leukocyte Antigen Testing to Establish Bone Marrow Donor Transplantation Suitability, would require insurance carriers to pay up to $150 for testing related to bone marrow donations. LePage vetoed it because he said it would lead to higher insurance premiums.

- LD 1463, A Resolve to Develop a Process for Tax Expenditure Review, would require the Legislature’s Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability to develop ongoing recommendations around tax expenditures. LePage wrote that he vetoed it because a legislative work group that was tasked with a similar job in the current biennial budget bill tried and failed in recent months.

- LD 1772, A Resolve Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 200: Metallic Mineral Exploration, Advanced Exploration and Mining, would force the Department of Environmental Protection and citizen-led Board of Environmental Protection to start over on the development of statewide mining rules, which with the passage of this bill were rejected by the Legislature earlier this year. LePage vetoed the bill because he said it is an attempt to outlaw mining through rulemaking when the proper course for that would be to repeal a mining bill that was passed two years ago. LePage said he supports mining because of its potential economic benefits to the state, though large-scale mining’s opponents have contested that notion.

- LD 1194, An Act to Protect Social Media Privacy in School and in the Workplace, would require the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee to conduct a study around privacy concerns involving the use of social media and email in schools and workplaces, with the intention of submitting a bill next year. The Judiciary Committee spent weeks trying to agree on a privacy bill this year but was unsuccessful. LePage vetoed the resolve because he said bills to come forward next session should be developed by lawmakers who are in office next session.

- LD 1593, A Resolve to Eliminate Financial Inequality in MaineCare Reimbursement for Community-based Behavioral Health Services, would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to convene a stakeholder group to study Medicaid reimbursement rates for hospitals. LePage said the study would be a waste of the department’s time and would likely produce little in the way of solutions.

- LD 1120, An Act to Improve Maine’s Tax Laws, would require corporations that file unitary tax returns in Maine to include income they earn from certain foreign jurisdictions in their net income calculations. LePage wrote in his veto letter that the law would make Maine one of only three states to do so and could have harmful economic impacts.

- LD 1729, An Act to Increase the Period of Time for the Calculation of a Prior Conviction for Operating Under the Influence, would increase the period of time for the calculation of a prior OUI conviction from 10 years under current law to an unlimited amount of time. That means a felony OUI conviction would never be wiped from a person’s record for the purpose of determining whether he or she should be considered a repeat offender. LePage’s veto letter, in which he wrote that OUI convictions should count on a person’s record permanently when courts are considering whether a person is a repeat offender, appears to be in reaction to an earlier version of the bill that called for the limit to be increased to 15 years.

- LD 1794, An Act to Cancel the No-bid Alexander Group Contract to Produce Savings in Fiscal Year 2013-14, would cancel a controversial, nearly $1 million Medicaid study that was commissioned without a bidding process by the LePage administration and is currently underway. LePage wrote that the Alexander Group has “unique experience” in conducting such a study and that Democrats want to cancel the contract because it is expected to produce findings they don’t agree with.

- LD 1247, An Act to Expand Coverage of Family Planning Services, would expand Medicaid coverage for family planning services to adults and adolescents who have incomes less than or equal to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. LePage wrote that most of the people targeted by this bill could already receive the coverage from private insurance plans they can purchase under the federal Affordable Care Act.

- LD 1345, A Resolve to Study the Design and Implementation of Options for a Universal Health Care Plan, calls for the hiring of consultants to recommend options for creating a universal health insurance program that melds with the federal Affordable Care Act by December of 2015. LePage vetoed the bill because he opposes single-payor health care and opposed the use of a federal State Innovation Model grant to fund the up to $100,000 study.

- LD 1185, An Act to Enhance Efforts to Use Locally Produced Food in Schools, would require public schools to report how much Maine-grown food they serve. LePage wrote in his veto letter that collecting the data would be of little value and that the bill goes against federal nutrition guidelines that require competitive bidding.

- LD 1757, A Resolve to Establish the Blue Ribbon Commission on Independent Living and Disability, would require a study of the supports available to Mainers with disabilities and recommend cost-effective improvements. LePage wrote that he vetoed the bill because similar work is already ongoing by the federally mandated Statewide Independent Living Council.

According to Democrats, LePage has now issued 163 vetoes in his first term in office, well more than the previous record-holder, Gov. Jim Longley, who issued 118. House Majority Leader Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, said many of LePage’s vetoes could have been avoided if he had chosen to work with lawmakers earlier in the legislative process.

“The governor with these vetoes has really shown an astonishing new level of extremism and poor leadership,” said Berry on Monday.

The Legislature will convene on Thursday to consider all 30 vetoes that have been issued recently plus any more that LePage issues between now and then. It takes a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to override a gubernatorial veto.

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.